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The Roundup for September 29th, 2014

By: Monday September 29, 2014 4:34 pm

Hey there folks, it’s the start of a new week!

International Politics

Overall

- Chris Hedges: “Becoming Hezbollah’s Air Force“; Hedges writes on our culture’s incessant lust for warfare

- To quote David Swanson, “war is a lie” and the use of the Khorasan Group, which does not exist, reinforces how the use of a lie for war can be used those in power.

- In a letter to the International Criminal Court, the National Lawyers Guild urged an investigation into war crimes in Gaza by Israel

- A new study revealed eight migrants die per day on the trek to reach a richer, more developed country for security; Very tragic and highlights the divide between the rich and poor countries.

Middle East

- It seems most Evangelical Christians are withdrawing support for Israel and siding with Palestinians

- When an Islamic State fighter says U.S. airstrikes against the ISIL do not work, then it is time to reconsider your strategy

- Journalist Tariq Ali interviews Patrick Cockburn about the rise of the ISIL and where the Middle East is heading

- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted the ISIL and Hamas were a part of the same “tree” and also warned (again) about Iran’s role in the region

- A Syrian official called for an expansion of the U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria to all hit militant groups in the country

Asia and Oceania

- An organizer that is a part of Hong Kong’s demonstrations called for more action and the numbers so far definitely show thousands are out in force

- With Ashraf Ghani sworn into office as the new president of Afghanistan, his administration will certainly be filled with corruption

- The death toll is at 36 so far in the eruption of Japan’s Mt. Ontake

Europe 

- With all of these ceasefire agreements so far with both sides in Ukraine, it only allows the disorder in the country to grow without any means to address it. A case-and-point is the deaths of 12 people in fighting in the east despite the current ceasefire.

- On The Real News, Sister Teresa Forcades, who lives in Spain, talks about the power of the banking industry colluding with governments, and the resistance from below for another life

Surveillance Planet

- We can partially blame former President Ronald Reagan for allowing more executive powers for mass surveillance, the expansion of the tools used is scary; Kevin writes more on it here

Financial Matters

- A new report warns “Big Data” presents problems for labor and ethnic groups as it potentially creates inequalities

- U.S. judge Thomas Griesa ruled Argentina in contempt of court, which Argentina consideres illegal under international law

- A new report from the Center for Economic Policy and Research found Brazil assisted the poor through financial assistance and raised their standard of living over the past decade

Labor’s a-Brewing

- California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to provide protections for temp workers holding their employers accountable for any wage theft or safety standards violations

Politics US

Washington USA

- Gallup: 35 percent of Americans favor a limited government, while 32 percent favor stronger government

- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues his neoliberal tour with a stop at the White House

- While the Obama administration may to keep a trial on its methods in Guantanamo Bay secret, media organizations sued to ensure it is public

- How much is the war against the ISIL costing so far? It is estimated it is $780 million

We Don’t Need No Education

- To protest potential curriculum changes in Colorado, teachers called in sick to protest at two area schools

The Second Sex

- A new study found women who are unable to get an abortion experience higher rates of domestic violence compared with women who can get an abortion

- California passed the “yes means yes” law to prevent sexual assaults on campuses, and also passed a bill to prevent sex workers from being prosecuted for carrying condoms

- It is good news California passed such a law since colleges and universities do not expel students charged with sexual assault

Planet Earth

- Time is running out for some communities in California as the drought worsens with water supplies at risk

- A new study only verified what we know: The counter-movement preventing meaningful action on climate change is prevailing

Mixed Bag

- Dave Zirin: “Are Gaza Protests Coming to the NBA Preseason?

- “Obama Informs Nation Anarchy Will Reign During Search For New Attorney General“; Finally, thanks The Onion

Break Time

- Me, Myself and I [De La Soul]


Most Americans Unaware How Rich 1% Are

By: Monday September 29, 2014 10:21 am

As evidence showing more and more of America’s wealth is being snatched by the rich compounds, a survey shows Americans are still unable to grasp how truly rich those at the top are. The 400 wealthiest Americans now control $2.3 trillion worth of wealth while the American middle class not gotten a raise in 15 years according to the US Census.

But if the inequalities are so plain and dramatic how is it most people are not picking up on it? Paul Krugman offers the explanation that so few of the 99% deal with members of the 1% that such levels of wealth are a foreign concept. That, outside of celebrity entertainment, the average American never interacts with the 1% nor understands how different the lives of the 1% are from their own.

The true plutocrats are out of sight.

So how can people be unaware of this development, or at least unaware of its scale? The main answer, I’d suggest, is that the truly rich are so removed from ordinary people’s lives that we never see what they have. We may notice, and feel aggrieved about, college kids driving luxury cars; but we don’t see private equity managers commuting by helicopter to their immense mansions in the Hamptons. The commanding heights of our economy are invisible because they’re lost in the clouds.

The exceptions are celebrities, who live their lives in public. And defenses of extreme inequality almost always invoke the examples of movie and sports stars. But celebrities make up only a tiny fraction of the wealthy, and even the biggest stars earn far less than the financial barons who really dominate the upper strata. For example, according to Forbes, Robert Downey Jr. is the highest-paid actor in America, making $75 million last year. According to the same publication, in 2013 the top 25 hedge fund managers took home, on average, almost a billion dollars each.

Krugman notes a survey published by the Association for Psychological Association that shows most Americans believe wealth inequality is not as severe as it truly is as well as preferring a style of wealth distribution more akin to Sweden. In a sense, most people agree on what they want but don’t know what they have.

As the survey shows, there is a general consensus on building a more equitable society. The question is even if more Americans are shown that what they believe they have is wrong compared to what they think they have, will the political system allow for reform? Right now the plutocrats are having it both ways – they have gamed the political system and the public is not even aware how rich and powerful they are.

Was The Khorasan Group Ever An ‘Imminent Threat?’

By: Monday September 29, 2014 7:40 am

As the Obama Administration began bombing in Syria under questionable legality, a sweetener was thrown in to the propaganda campaign to get the US involved in the civil war in Syria – the Khorasan Group. Though President Obama never mentioned the group in his speech to the nation, the Khorasan Group became another part of the justification for expanding the war from Iraq into Syria.

One problem, the Khorasan Group was mostly hype.

Though the US corporate media went wild regurgitating Obama Administration nightmare fantasies concerning Khorasan, after the public was sufficiently terrorized and the bombs started dropping the “imminent threat” faded from the headlines. And, upon further investigation, it appears the White House took the country out for a ride again.

Some senior intelligence officials, however, haven’t been so emphatic in their assessments. “In terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said at a conference in Washington last week. But according to the top U.S. counterterrorism official, as well as Obama himself, there is “no credible information” that the militants of the Islamic State were planning to attack inside the United States.

Although the group could pose a domestic terrorism threat if left unchecked, any plot it tried launching today would be “limited in scope” and “nothing like a 9/11-scale attack,” Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in remarks at the Brookings Institution earlier this month. That would suggest that Khorasan doesn’t have the capability either, even if it’s working to develop it. “Khorasan has the desire to attack, though we’re not sure their capabilities match their desire,” a senior U.S. counterterrorism official told Foreign Policy.

So not so much an “imminent threat” as a group of people with wicked intentions. Quite a precedent. Will the US bomb anywhere they believe a group of people may have ill-intentions on the United States or was that target struck just to finish out the propaganda campaign? In order to close the sale something had to be bombed.

Sadly, the cynical scenario of a one-off hype and bomb campaign to manipulate public opinion is the better scenario. The other scenario is that the Obama Administration has been conjuring up and hyping threats to justify US involvement and domination as a matter of continued policy – in which case the global war on terror remains unchanged from the Bush years.

Image from The Big Combo under public domain.

Occupy Central And Pro-Democracy Protests Shut Down Hong Kong

By: Monday September 29, 2014 5:34 am

#HongKong police tear gas & pepper spray attacks on pro-democracy supporters births the #UmbrellaMovement pic.twitter.com/k4HpxdiKwd — Phelim Kine 林海 (@PhelimKine) September 29, 2014 Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong against creeping influence from Beijing were met with a severe police response as students and other activists were teargassed. The crackdown appears to have backfired with more [...]

The Weekend Roundup for September 26-27th, 2014

By: Sunday September 28, 2014 3:20 pm

Hey folks, how are you doing today? International Politics Overall – President Barack Obama: Our intelligence did not consider the Islamic State a threat, underestimating them; I’m sure they were more worried on how to support them – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at Madison Square Garden on his neoliberal tour. He may have to come back [...]

The Roundup for September 26th, 2014

By: Friday September 26, 2014 1:51 pm

It’s Friday today folks. What are you planning? International Politics Overall – It’s official: Britain, Denmark and Belgium join the U.S.-led coalition to go to war with the Islamic State; The White House is pleased with Britain’s decision to join – U.S. General Martin Dempsey: In terms of Syria, rebels would need to make a force [...]

UAE-Hired Lobbyists Planted Anti-Qatar Stories In US Media

By: Friday September 26, 2014 9:17 am

UAE hires PR firm to smear Qatar. If only Doha had some way to defend themselves in the media, like a global television network or something — Eli Lake (@EliLake) September 25, 2014 Try to act surprised. A familiar cast of characters has been caught writing stories at the behest of lobbyists for foreign governments. [...]

Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes Reveal Culture Of Corruption At Federal Reserve

By: Friday September 26, 2014 7:22 am

EDITOR’S NOTE: See also Peterr’s Bill Black, Carmen Segarra, and the Regulatory Failure That Is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from a year ago. $GS' Lloyd Blankfein & @HillaryClinton at Women Entrepreneurs #CGI2014 dinner hosted by #10KWomen cc @ClintonGlobal pic.twitter.com/P5bc0mGkSc — GS 10,000 Women (@GS10KWomen) September 24, 2014 The radio program This American [...]

Iraqi Prime Minister Claims ISIS Planning To Attack US And France

By: Friday September 26, 2014 5:33 am

A statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi regarding ISIS planning to attack the US and France swept through the US media yesterday despite both French and American officials saying they had no such intelligence. The alleged plot was uncovered by Iraqi intelligence who informed Abadi. Though Abadi met with US officials this week he [...]

McKibben, Hedges, Klein, Sawant and Sanders Speak on Next Steps for Environmentalists

By: Thursday September 25, 2014 2:35 pm

On the night before the People’s Climate March, activists, scholars and civilians gathered at All Souls Unitarian Church in the Upper East Side in New York City to hear leading figures speaking about the environmental movement today and what strategies may work in the future. The event was hosted by Brian Lehrer of WNYC radio [...]

The Roundup for September 25th, 2014

By: Thursday September 25, 2014 2:03 pm

With Thursday upon us, what are you planning as we approach the end of the week? International Politics Overall – Glenn Greenwald: “How former Treasury officials and the UAE are manipulating American journalists” – With evidence of Islamic State militants entering Turkey to treat their woundeds as the country keeps its border opens, it reveals [...]

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